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Sunday Reading Challenge: The Jumblies by Edward Lear

Written by Rachael Norris, 5th April 2020

We are introducing this new post with the hope of injecting a bit of fun into our Sunday readings. We will be putting our readers to the test by asking them to memorise poems to recite aloud. Learning poems by heart has somewhat fallen out of fashion in the age of technology which perhaps somewhat eradicates the need for memorising favourite bits of verse when you can so easily bring them up with a word typed into Google? But it is a wonderful thing to do – you will get to know the poem in a different way, you will get to feel it in a much deeper way from the inside, and you will also have – providing you can be kind and patient with yourself – much fun along the way.

If you already have some favourite lines of verse committed to memory, please do let us know. Or if you would like to set our readers a particularly tricky challenge, please feel free to make a suggestion. Below a post from Clare Ellis, trying to recite The Jumblies by Edward Lear.

Hello Dear Readers,

Well, I had a go with The Jumblies. It is a long poem and so I thought I would just focus on the first stanza as part of the Sunday Challenge, take things one step at a time as it were.

I found the task initially quite hard, but already accepting that I would inevitably misremember words anyway, I was able to find it quite amusing to think about the particular words I had forgotten, and which words I was able to more easily recall.

Initially after reading the stanza aloud a few times with the poem to hand, I had my first go. All I could remember was ‘The Jumblies went to sea’ and something about their heads being either blue or green – or was it their hands...Anyway, time for another go.

This time I started with a few lines at a time. I walked about my small flat saying the first four lines aloud to myself, imagining the Jumblies going out to sea and wishing I could go with them.

The Jumblies went to sea, they did,

In a sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,

In a sieve they went to sea!

Eureka! I did it! But what about the rest?

Well, repeating the process above, taking my time and giving myself space in between the acts of trying to remember and recite the poem, I just about did it. I will most probably misremember certain lines of it again over the next week, and indeed I think by the time I did my little video below, I may have misquoted a few lines. But hey, does that really matter? Of course not. I feel that after doing this challenge, I’m that bit more closer to Lear’s wonderful creatures.

See if you can have a go? See if your kids would like to get involved. Perhaps you could set your friends and family a bit of a challenge this weekend?

Happy Jumblies

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